When Hahnemann saw Cinchona Bark cause symptoms like those of the ague, for which it was being given, it impressed him so greatly that Hippocrates’ note about some cures being made with similarly acting drugs came to mind, and he wondered whether Paracelsus insistence upon the paramount value of similars did not rest upon a general law.
To clear this point he ransacked literature for incidental cures so made, as well as started experiments of his own for the purpose of discovering pure drug effects, which could in turn be tried out upon the sick. The world knows the result. Rooted in the philosophy of Bacon, he and his disciples began the building of a new materia medica and coincidentally formulated the canons of the “Organon”; each process helping the other until they both reached a high degree of excellence.
Thus it came about that homoeopathy was born as a perfected system of universal application, in spite of the fact that many of its parts had from time to time been separately set forth; as when Paracelsus declared that all drugs act potentially only.
They used the most natural forms, of expression, making the paragraphs of the Organon models of concise reasoning, while the symptoms of the Materia Medica Pura are reproductions of rare native simplicity. This is in itself a tower of strength, because it constantly holds before the prescriber a natural picture whose elements must reappear in the sick.
In comparing two such images it is self evident that the outlines (regions) must be similar and the general colouring (conditions) quite alike, but above all the motive (mentality and sensation) must bear the closest resemblance. Confusion in any one of these throws just that much uncertainty into the outcome. Essential peculiarities do not necessarily belong to any particular one of these spheres, for the investigator can only obtain what is available, although he may project the known harmoniously into the obscure, and when the doubtful field is one in which the otherwise well indicated remedy is known to be very active, it may well be taken as an affirmative indication both therapeutically and diagnostically. As a method this involves great risks, because it not only necessitates a profound knowledge of the natural ramifications of disease, but also implies an equal grasp of the finer extensions of drug action.
Every picture has a motive or central idea, which controls the meaning of the whole. The careful observer tries to find this govern-ing factor first of all, for he knows that it colours the whole scheme and its detection will simplify matters. If there is a multiplicity of detail, the learner is discouraged and soon lost. Indeed, does not simplicity teach the highest form of art? This is an universal lesson, which applies with great force to the study of materia medica and therapy.
Most symptoms come on in groups, and as all are alike the product of vital reaction, resemblances are bound to appear. These may be very strong, as in the case of Lachesis and diphtheria, Mercury and syphilis, etc., a feature that has caused a few drugs to be looked upon as being specific for their corresponding diseases. This is nevertheless a dangerous generalisation which encourages slovenly prescribing, even from a diagnostic standpoint.
These group-effects also show a selective action upon particular and associated organs, whose interdependent symptoms may in turn aid in elucidating the choice of a curative remedy, as well as in clearing up the diagnosis; but they often lack the individuality of the apparently less related concomitants whose importance grows as they seem to lose connection with the affected part. This is especially true where the deeply rooted miasms are concerned. On the other hand, the symptoms and modalities of the affected part are of more commanding importance in very acute affections and the early stages of disease.
It is too bad that our journals and books speak of disease in what can only be styled “an appallingly stilted medicology,” telling us much less than the patient, with his plain Anglo-Saxon does. He does not need this jargon of strange sounds to tell us that he is really sick, while we close our own minds to the actual realities of sickness every time we think of his illness in an exclusively pathological light. If he is full of words it is hardly likely that his talk will interest us very much; his loquacity and its character will be the point at issue. If he be reticent, the reasons therefore must be discovered. It is a case of finding the mental attitude. In the absence of this, the prescriber is severely handicapped. But you will say, “What is to be done when this is of necessity absent.”